The Blind Artist with and Insightful Vision
Thank you for your time Joey.
You are most welcome. Thanks for letting me tell my story!
As a blind recording and performing artist what do you find are the greatest challenges in your career?
You might think it would be learning how to play or compensating for not being able to read the printed page. But, the writing, performing, recording and marketing of the music is actually the easy part.
The biggest challenges that I face are:
- Not being able to drive, so I have to arrange things like transportation very carefully and radicle changes to my schedule are difficult.
- When sighted folks I pay to assist me don’t go the extra mile to make sure that the little things are taken care of.
A perfect example is when I was leaving for my recent solo tour of LA and Detroit. I had asked someone to confirm that the power supply for my pedal board was in the flight case. I asked, “are you sure”, they said yes. Please keep in mind, for me to search a room and try and find something is very time consuming because basically, I have to feel the room from top to bottom, it takes forever! Well, I got home with my flight case and my wife went to put something else in to the case and found, yep, you guessed it, the power supply hadn’t been put in the case as promised. So, we had to stop what we were doing and run back down to my studio, about 15 minutes away, to find the power supply and then finish packing and head to the airport which is about an hour away. Of course, this is why I always plan on triple the amount of time it should take me to complete any task, but it was an unnecessary interruption that could have so easily been avoided.
However, I don’t want to leave this first question on a bit of a downer, so I do also want to recount this.
One day one of my voice students was running late for her next appointment after our lesson, she was a TV news reporter and she had to be on time. Well, she couldn’t find her car keys anywhere in my studio. She had been looking for about 15 minutes and she was getting panicked. This little voice in my heart said, get up and help her look for her keys. Of course, my rational mind said to that little voice, that is a dumb idea, you can’t see and you would have to feel each room top to bottom to assist her. But the little voice in my heart said, go and help her, so grumbling to myself, I got up and started feeling around my studio. The first place I checked, was a chair near the door of my control room. Of course, I thought this is obvious and in easy sight, I am sure she has looked here, but, If I am going to do a job, I am going to do it right, so I put my hand down in to the seat of the chair. I found, a slate, if you don’t know what that is, it is the thing in movies they hold up and clap and say action. I also do web and terrestrial TV shows as the host, so, this wasn’t a surprise to have something like this laying around the studio. But, I thought, of course, she has lifted this up and looked under it! Well, guess what, she hadn’t and I found her keys in about 2 minutes of looking! My point is that while sometimes it is harder for me to do something, the fact that I have to be so detailed when I “look for something” actually worked to my advantage and I was able to help my student not be late! So a win for no eyes:-)
When did you first decide to become a singer and performer?
My first inkling that I was going to be in the entertainment industry was when I was 13 and I got in to recording sound effects. I thought, I could do that for film and TV. I mean, who better than a blind guy to record realistic sounds? Well at 15, I got my first job as the sound tech for the local planetarium and from there, other people my age and older started asking if I would record their garage bands. I said yes and by 17 I knew that music was the way I wanted to tell my story. By 19 I had moved my studio from my attic room at home and into a building in down town Macon GA and I haven’t looked back.
What have been some of your greatest experiences in the studio?
So many amazing things have happened! I have lived a very full life with ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade any of it!
Regarding cool moments in the studio, I remember the moment I knew I was a professional and that I had worked hard enough to be a one take wonder:-) Just meaning I get my work done fast and correctly. It was 1997 and I was recording my second album “ Ironies, Pain And The Light That guides” I was getting vocal and guitar takes including solos quickly and stretching my melodic and rhythmic abilities. Of course, I have improved since then, but that was the first time I thought, man, this is going to work and not be an uphill climb.
I have had the great privilege to record with some truly amazing folks like Jimmy Hall of Jeff Beck and Wet Willie, Al Chez of Tower of Power, Ben Tucker Of Herbie Mann, Alan Parsons, Chuck Leavelle Of The Rolling Stones and so many more. But the moments I love best are when I know I am making a difference for my clients. Providing them with tools they can use to move their career along to the next level!
I do remember a funny story, that I can tell, when I had been working with a client for about three days and all of a sudden, they pointed to a binaural mic. What you have to understand about this mic, is that it looks like a human head because it tries to replicate how the human ear works regarding the stereo image. Okay, so picture it, there is this weird head in a corner of my studio just hanging’ out and my client looks up and is, like, ah, what is that? And he points. As a blind person, I didn’t know what he was talking about. So I said, I am not sure what you mean. The client said that over there in the corner. I said, what corner, there are 4 of them. He said right there. I said, are you pointing to something? He said very perplexed, yeah! I said dude, I am blind. It was completely quiet for a moment and then he said, oh my god, I didn’t know!
I am not sure how that was possible, we had been working together for around 3 days, but he just hadn’t noticed because I know my studio so well:-) He felt dumb, but I felt elated!
Tell us about your mission as a musician.
I will be the first to admit that I take what I do very seriously. I believe in the power of music to change lives for the better! Art, in my case music, performs three central functions in any society. The more healthy the society, the more robust the arts community!
First, artists act as historians. Reminding us of our successes and failures as people, but also as a culture and as a collective of beings. Just look at the amazing music that has come out of the Vietnam protests or the civil rights movement!
Next, we serve to enlighten. Using art to expand peoples concept of what it means to be alive and new ways of thinking about things. Again, look at the new ideas presented in the music of the 60’s and 70’s and even the 80’s by artists like Lesley Gore with her song “ You Don’t Own Me” which helped serve to redefine what rights women had. Again, the music of Donna Summer with her song “ Love To Love You Baby” Again, in my mind redefining what kind of sexuality was acceptable for a woman to be able to publicly express and of course, this type of thought and expression and personal freedom was cranked up to 11 in the 80’s with Madonna’s “Justify My Love”, a song that gave permission for women to be free to express themselves in ways that would have been over the top scandalous just 10 years before. In the aughts, we see Lady Gaga do this by giving all people regardless of race, color, sex or religion permission and indeed encouragement to love themselves!
Finally, music puts the lie to the idea that we are alone and that no one can understand who we are as beings. While it is true, that I can’t 100% know your journey, I can share my journey with you and vice versa and I can empathize. Sometimes life tries to trick us in to thinking that to be human is a solitary experience, and then, a song comes on the radio, or your favorite streaming service and you think, Oh My God, that artist is singing my life.
So, for me, my mission as an artist and specifically as a musician, is to leave the world a little better than I found it and to be content to do so, one song and one person at a time. I also want to remind people how we are more similar than we are different and I use humor to do that. I am blind and it is okay to say so. Blind isn’t a dirty word and while it can be a challenge and a pain at times, it can also be funny and it is okay to laugh! I recommend to check out what I mean, that you look up my song and music video “ Blind Man Drivin’”
What performers do you think most closely resemble your on stage personality and performance style?
Oh, I don’t know! That is a hard one. We do perform with a lot of energy and work hard for it to be musically compelling. It is about 60% music, 30% comedy and about 10% serious stuff about living a better life! Basically, I just live my life on stage the same way I do off stage. It is there for people to watch, learn from, be inspired by, be entertained by and hopefully enjoy. While Ihave a lot of musicians I admire and am inspired by, I don’t think our show is like anything else I have ever experienced.
Where can we catch your next show?
The best thing is to visit www.joeystuckey.com and check out the fan zone and get some free music and sign up for the E-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on where we will be performing. We only send out one E-mail letter a month so it won’t add to your SPAM:-) Also, there is a concert page on www.joeystuckey.com that is updated a lot, so that is another great way to see what we are doing. I know the Joey Stuckey Trio has 2 shows coming up in November and I have a solo show in Nashville TN on 11/9 as well. The performance schedule is a bit strange as I make most of my living as a full time music educator and producer with a recording studio www.shadowsoundstudio.com. But, we are working hard to perform more and more and have a lot of cool shows we are working on for 2020!
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I would be most grateful if you would check out the current album “In The Shadow Of The Sun” on Spotify or your favorite streaming service and would love to connect via social media:
End of Interview